Save the Rails Rally calls for different transportation choices

I hope to see y’all at the rally. (I’m going to be speaking on behalf of the Oklahoma County Green Party and as a part of the faith community)…

“Save the Rails!” Rally Saturday, in OKC, Calls For Different Transportation Choices
When: 10-11 a.m., Saturday, August 11
Where: Union Station, SW 7th Street & Harvey
Speaking: Tom Elmore, Andrew Rice, Wallace Collins, James Branum, Fannie Bates
**Elected officials, candidates and citizen activists to speak to save the Union Station railyards for FUTURE MASS TRANSIT AND OKLAHOMA RAIL HUB FOR THE NATION **

OKLAHOMA CITY – Citizens from around the state will gather this Saturday at Oklahoma City’s Union Station for what they call a rally to “Save the Rails” network that crisscross Oklahoma and provide a ready-made solution to mass transit needs for the entire region. They are inviting all concerned citizens to join them to demand better transportation choices by our politicians and business leaders.

“The people’s needs and expressed desire for viable mass transit are not being considered,” said Fannie Bates, who is centering her campaign for the Oklahoma Country District 1 seat on the issue. Bates, a teacher with a masters degree in public health, will speak at the rally.

The rally will start at 10 AM at Union Station, 300 SW 7th St (corner of S. Harvey and 7th). In addition to Ms. Bates, speakers for the rally include Oklahoma State Senator Andrew Rice, Oklahoma State Rep Wallace Collins and Tom Elmore, Executive Director of North American Transportation Institute.

“This event is an opportunity for the people of the state to speak up for responsible government, safe highways and badly needed alternatives to the automobile,” said Tom Elmore, a long time activist for rail transport and one of the organizers of the event. “Using the state’s unique 900 mile network of publicly owned rail lines, OKC Union Station is the only hope baby boomers and older Oklahomans have of seeing a comprehensive, regional rail transit system in our lifetimes.”

Existing plans for the new CrossTown will pave over some of Oklahoma City’s important rail infrastructure and any future rail development will require untold expense to create what exists right now. Union Station, which was restored with tax funds, will become a “museum relic” if the rails don’t exist.

The current development path is extremely shortsighted, says Evan Stair, Executive Director of Passenger Rail Oklahoma. “now that we know the environmental cost of petroleum use, and the future value of rail transportation, it is crazy to pave existing rail lines to build a new highway!”

“The simpler and less expensive alternative is to route heavy trucks around Oklahoma City on the South Loop, unless they are making OKC deliveries, then shore up and re-deck the existing I-40 overhead. This would cost a tenth as much as the new highway, save the rails, make future rail use possible, permitting Oklahoma City to become a regional rail hub.”

Organizers say their goal is to focus community attention on the issue, and lobby public officials who are only listening to business interests. To this end, there will be literature and ideas for future action available for attenders. After the rally, participants will be invited to walk to nearby Wheeler Park, which is itself set for destruction as part of the rerouting, for a BYO picnic lunch.

“It’s not too late,” says Ms. Bates, “Together, the citizens can prevent this development dead-end and help create a transportation system that will be the envy of the nation.”